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Choosing your Antarctic Ship

Australians were the third largest group of travellers to visit the ‘White Continent’ in the last two years

Now, more than ever, Antarctica is more accessible thanks to a variety of ships and itineraries available.  But how do you distinguish between the Antarctic vessels? Here’s a brief guide to a selection of the available Antarctic cruising styles.

Expedition ships

  • The bread and butter polar exploration ideal for travellers who priorities land based experiences such as walking on land, getting close to animals, photography  and less on accommodations or ship amenities.
  • This ships tend to carry smaller groups thus can offer two off-the-ship excursions
  • Generally emphasise the destination and off ship or shore experiences
Akademik Vavilov
Pictured: Expedition Ship Akademik Vavilov

Luxury ships

  • Often have five-star amenities including spacious public areas and lounges, refined gastronomy and private balconies in select cabin types
  • Greater emphasis on luxury on board facilities and accommodation while still providing the Antarctic experience
  • Are often custom built and tend to have more modern features
Luxury Antarctica ship Le Boreal
Luxury Antarctica ship Le Boreal

Expedition Luxury ships

  • The best of both worlds. Some are smaller ships that carry around 100 passengers while others are larger vessels roughly 200 passengers
  • Some vessels have larger cabins or ships are newer compared to an expedition ship
  • Meals may be buffet style while others offer a la carte dining.
M/S Hebridean Sky
Expedition-Luxury ship Hebridean Sky

Other important information

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) set a limit on the number of passenger landings in Antarctica. Only 100 passengers at a time can land at any one time. So a ship with 100 passengers or less can land the entire ship. Vessels with more than 100 passengers may split their groups and rotate landings which can impact clients’ experience.

Got more questions? Contact our friendly team


*Source: IAATO Tourism Statistics

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